Share The Wealth by Chris Gupta
April 02, 2004

Canada's Public Health Agency: Bound and gagged?

What a joke! As if this is something new. All public agencies are "bound and gagged" if and when vested interests are affected in the pocket book. This is almost the norm and not an exception as this media release implies. These crumbs of information that the media throw - only serve to placate the masses. They create an illusion that derelict governmental bodies are being kept in check leading us to believe that this is good democracy at work. What one should realize is, that for every crumb of sanity discovered or thrown at us is only intended to serve as public relations tactic while thousands of indiscretions safeguarding business interests go unchecked ....

..."Nothing is more obvious and more urgently needed than a national body that is independent of politicians and bureaucrats and dedicated solely to protecting and enhancing the health of the public."

Surely the national governmental bodies need to be independent of business interests also before even one remotely thinks in moving in that direction ... Strange that conflict of interest is not even considered this supposedly scathing review of the Health Agency?

..."An agency that will lead, not follow."

Expecting this form usurped bodies like Health Canada is like bailing water from a boat with a big hole!

Chris Gupta

PS see comments in body also. CG

Canada's Public Health Agency: Bound and gagged?

Early release, published at on Mar. 16, 2004. Subject to revision.

This Journal has repeatedly called for federal leadership in public health,1 leadership that would guide us through crises such as BSE,2 Walkerton3 and SARS4,5 and that would ensure the fundamentals of health protection, including national surveillance and a national vaccination strategy.6 We have not been alone in advocating a national public health agency. Nothing is more obvious and more urgently needed than a national body that is independent of politicians and bureaucrats and dedicated solely to protecting and enhancing the health of the public. An agency that will lead, not follow.

At the helm of change, Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of State for Public Health, is charged with "establish[ing] a strong and responsive public health system… .” 7 Yet, days before the federal budget is brought down, we find the minister waiting for comments to a discussion paper8 that could only have been written by senior bureaucrats who have but a timorous and vague concept of what public health is and whose primary focus is on "opening a dialogue on public health issues” and keeping the new agency firmly within their control. "The agency,” we are informed, "would … operate within the Health Canada portfolio.”

Hello. In the light of widespread outbreaks of old pathogens and the now almost monthly arrival of new ones from around the world, we do not need the procrastinations of yet another federal subdepartment of some other subdepartment reporting to a distant associate of some deputy minister. We need leadership. We need independence. We need an agency that is adequately funded and a chief public health officer who can report directly to the public without the filters applied by bureaucrats and communications officers.

Good luck. Filters and regulations to protect the vested interests has become the de facto mandate of governments - so don't expect much... CG

There is no doubt that, to be effective, public health must build consensus among often-competing public (and private) institutions, including government. As the SARS epidemic in Toronto taught us, cooperation among federal, provincial and local health agencies is not automatic.9 Equally important, however, is a public consensus based on a coherent understanding of the facts.10 This larger consensus cannot be achieved by endless federalprovincial doughnut-and-coffee meetings in hotel meeting rooms, as Health Canada and the provinces have tried to do for decades and failed, dismally, with tragic results.

Exactly - who wants to archive consensus when there are benefactors to protect??? (Of course consensus is archived if it suits the benefactors) CG

The rapid succession of public health emergencies has convinced the public that they are inadequately protected and that they live and work in environments that require risk monitoring. Politicians have also understood. Minister Bennett has the goal correctly identified, and the government has made a public commitment to it in the Throne Speech. Provincial politicians are also in agreement with the creation of the new federal agency. Yet, for all that, the health ministers in Ottawa and their provincial counterparts risk underestimating the entrenched sluggishness of their own bureaucracies.

Not so. When that is exactly the desired outcome (delay tactic) to begin with.... CG

Ontario, for example, recently attempted to shore up its spotty public health system by appointing the very competent Dr. Sheela Basrur to replace the former Chief Medical Officer of Health. Wisely, Provincial Premier McGuinty placed her on a higher stool than her predecessor ­ she reports directly to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. However, Dr. Basrur remains hobbled by resources (for a population of 11.4 million) that are not much more than those of a small doughnut franchise.

Yet they have all the recourses in the world to protect the medical Mafia form competition. Competition from cost effective, strong, and safe nutritional supplements to improve health care... CG

See : Health Canada Puts Health at Risk!

Minister Bennett and her cabinet colleagues must extricate themselves from the inertia of bureaucracy and discussion papers. They must take the bold step needed to create a truly independent national public health agency. The appointment of the chief public health officer must be credible. And the budget, to be revealed shortly, must rapidly bring to the agency the estimated $1 billion that it will need to do the job.9 ­ CMAJ

Great only if that money could be used to create a Health instead of supporting the sickness industry that exists today.... CG


1) A Canadian agency for public health: If not now, when? [editorial]. CMAJ 2003;169(8):741.

2) From nannyism to public disclosure: the BSE inquiry report [editorial]. CMAJ 2001;164(2):165.

3) Public health on the ropes [editorial]. CMAJ 2002;166(10):1245.

4) Lessons from SARS [editorial]. CMAJ 2003;168(11):1381.

5) SARS: the struggle for containment [editorial]. CMAJ 2003;168(10):1229.

6) A patchwork policy: vaccination in Canada [editorial]. CMAJ 2003;168(5):533.

7) Canada House of Commons Debates (Hansard). Speech from the Throne. 37th Parliament, 3rd sess, 2004, vol 139, no 001.

8) Bennett C. Strengthening the pan-Canadian public health system [discussion paper]. Ottawa: Health Canada;2004. (updated 2004 Feb 27; accessed 2004 Mar 15).

9) National Advisory Committee on SARS and Public Health. Learning from SARS: renewal of public health in Canada. Ottawa: Health Canada; 2003. Cat no H21-220/2003E. (accessed 2004 Mar 15).

9) Public health, public persuasion [editorial]. CMAJ 2000;162(7):961.


CMAJ • APR. 13, 2004; 170 (8) Online-1

© 2004 Canadian Medical Association or its licensors

See also:

Roots of Medical & Other Monopolies

SARS - Treatments Available And Cost-Effective


posted by Chris Gupta on Friday April 2 2004
updated on Sunday October 16 2005

URL of this article:



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